eMusic hits 250 million downloads

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eMusic announced Thursday that it has sold 250 million MP3 downloads since establishing its current subscription model in 2003. The number includes sales in the U.S., Canada and the E.U., where eMusic service is available in 26 nations.

eMusic bills itself as the world’s largest retailer of independent music and the world’s second-largest digital music service after iTunes. Unlike iTunes’ standard music format delivery — AAC encoded with Apple’s iTunes “Fairplay” DRM — eMusic sells music in high-bitrate MP3 format, unencumbered with any sort of Digital Rights Management (DRM) restriction.

The service specifically caters to independent music enthusiasts and aims at attracting older music listeners. Rather than selling songs “a la carte,” as the iTunes Store does, eMusic sells subscriptions, offering users a fixed number of songs they can download each month depending on their subscription level.

eMusic’s catalog currently lists more than 4.5 million tracks, with recent label additions to its roster including Righteous Babe Records, Barsuk Records and the Domino Recording Co. With Righteous Babe’s addition eMusic now serves up Ani DiFranco’s full catalog, along with releases from Andrew Bird and Arto Lindsey. Artists represented by the other new labels include Nada Surf and The Arctic Monkeys.

The 250 millionth track downloaded was from In Ear Park by Department of Eagles, a band on the 4AD/Beggars Group label.

eMusic notes that the most recent 100 million downloads took about one-third as long to reach as the first 100 million (453 days, versus 1122 days).

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